Co-Housing in Southern Scotland - Further Information

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Key Features of Co-Housing Communities

In a Co-Housing community each household has a self-contained and private home and the ability of the individual household to move in and out, rent or buy, and sell or lease their house as they wish is preserved. Projects of around 30 houses are most common (with a range from 15 to 60) and they generally seek to offer a range of homes from the affordable to the exclusively tailored. To accommodate the aims of the community the design normally includes central rooms for meetings, and meals, as well as other facilities such as laundries, guest rooms and small work units.

History of Co-Housing

The concept is Danish in origin and dates from the first community established there in 1967, the country now has many hundreds of Co-Housing communities. The idea was soon exported across northern Europe, particularly to Sweden and the Nederlands, and also to North America where the term ‘Co-Housing’ was coined by the architects Kathryn McCamant and Charels Durrett in their book (Co-Housing: A Contemporary Approach to Housing Ourselves - The Euro Co-Housing Story) on the subject. There are now some 120 Co-Housing groups in North America.

Co-Housing in the UK

Co-Housing started to develop in the UK at the end of the 1990s. The first UK group to have residents was in Stroud, people moved into the Springhill Co-Housing scheme in 2003, it consists of 34 homes ranging from one bedroomed flats to five bedroomed houses. The movement in the UK has gradually built up momentum and there are now 18 built Co-Housing communities. A further 60+ Co-Housing groups are developing projects and new groups are forming all the time.

Co-Housing in Scotland

In Scotland there are a  number of groups working on the idea, the longest standing is Vivarium in Fife which has been running for 12 years, although its main energies have been directed at increasing understanding of the Co-Housing movement. For 10 years there has been interest in the Forres area, and the Wild Geese Co-Operative was formed some years ago. And in Glasgow there is a Quaker Housing Association. A number of putative groups have been formed for example in Selkirk and in Moffat, but none of the Scottish groups have as yet brought their plans to fruition.

The Co-Housing Network

There is an umbrella organisation for the UK “The UK Co-Housing Network”. This was formed nine years ago and now has seven directors and two employees and is based at the Lancaster Co-Housing Association. Their website is at: it offers full details about a number of Co-Housing communities and links to a number of associated organisations.

In Short

This balance between complete separation and individual living on the one hand, and fully communal living on the other, is hard to strike with traditional forms of ownership - Co-Housing seeks to find a happy medium between the extremes. The resources of a Co-Housing group can allow its members to design housing which is second to none in terms of sustainability and low environmental impact.

Examples of Co-Housing from England


Summary: A company was formed in which there were 15 members, each paying ₤5,000 for their share, these were later joined by 13 more. The 2 acres of land was bought for ₤550,000 and a loan to the company allowed the building to take place at a cost of ₤4.2 million. Residents started moving in 5 years after the first negotiations.


“...the Leeds based Co-Housing group. This was probably written about three years ago. LILAC or the ‘Low Impact Living Affordable Community’ is a pioneering project in Leeds incorporating a number of innovative solutions to build an environmentally, socially and economically sustainable community. Its participants hope it will offer a new model for affordable community housing across the UK. ‘The UK has several other Co-Housing projects, several other ecological projects and lots of affordable housing projects but LILAC will be the first project that does all these three things together.’ Tash Gordon – LILAC Co-founder and Treasurer.” There is also a page on the Transition Website which you can get to from here.

East Sussex

“.... We are a group of people who have jointly purchased a site and converted it into 21 homes. The project is situated on the edge of the small village of Laughton in East Sussex. The 23 acres of land and a small number of other buildings on the site provide communal facilities. Whilst maintaining the privacy of individual homes, the aim of the group is to live co-operatively, jointly managing the land and communal facilities, informally sharing skills and support and generally enjoying each other’s company. There is no one specific ideology that defines the group, but we have outlined some of our shared aims in more detail below. Members of the group created the Community Project according to their own ideas, however it resembles the “Co-Housing” model which while fairly unfamiliar in the UK is more widely-known elsewhere.”


For more information go to UK Co-Housing Network at:


Go to a Guardian feature on Co-Housing by Harriet Sherwood.


Newcastle University has commissioned a report on Co-Housing for older people. Click here to download a copy of the report


How to find Property/land for Sale in Scotland – links

In England Councils hold lists of land/property for sale and of community groups interested in buying. They do not have to do this in Scotland, but it is possible that they may hold similar lists – worth contacting relevant Estates Dept to find out. I have put the links to the nearest Councils below but the easiest seems to be the property finder website – worth the £5 subscription?[postal_code]=Edinburgh&distance[search_distance]=20&distance[search_units]=mile&field_what_type_of_property_are__tid=All&field_choose_the_main_features_o_tid=All&term_node_tid_depth=All

The Council sites cover old buildings which may be converted to residential and council land. Although there may not be anything currently suitable/available it gives an idea of what might be out there/possibilities…

Edinburgh City Council
Have a property alerts mailing list which might be a good idea to get on. There is nothing currently suitable.

East Lothian

West Lothian,6&saletypes=1&status=1&sizefrom=1&sizeto=500000%2b&sizetype=2&location=Livingston,%20Lothian&distance=10000&addresskeyword=&map=False&companyid=1112
This has more on offer…

Fife Council the link to Estates, probably best to make direct enquiry as this does not have a list of land available

Midlothian Council
Again seems to be more commercial land here but worth asking

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Last update - March 2016